Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha Region Secular Franciscans
covering most of Upstate New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania
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Walt Chura, SFO

Retreat center is on lake front with canoeing and swimming available.

Thomas Merton in the Mountains
13th Annual Retreat in the Adirondacks in September

The 13th Annual "Thomas Merton in the Mountains" contemplative retreat at Pyramid Life Center in the Adirondack town of Paradox, NY will be held from Friday, Sept. 5 through Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008. This year's focus will be on Merton's Franciscan Spirit, noted retreat facilitator Walt Chura, SFO, past chair of the Retreats Committee of the International Thomas Merton Society and formation director for St. Bernardine of Siena Fraternity in Loudonville.

The cost of the retreat is $120.00, including room, meals, materials, conferences and full use of PLC facilities.

For information about registration or accommodations, email Sr. Monica Murphy, call her at 518-585-7545, or visit For information on retreat content, email Walt Chura, SFO., or call him at 518-456-3201..

“This weekend will once again include not only conferences on Merton’s contemplative spirituality, instruction in meditation techniques and intervals of common prayer,” Chura explained, “but we will be guided by Merton’s suggestion of leaving retreatants extended silent periods without organized activity.” He added, “Merton pointed out that we need time ‘simply to get oneself back into one’s right mind.’” For those who are uncomfortable with extended quiet, Chura remarked, Merton taught that “even for those who find silence and solitude oppressive, there is a certain value in just disciplining oneself to be ‘empty’ and to spend time doing nothing . . .”

Surrounded by the wonder of nature, the retreat center is
conducive to prayer and meditation.

Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk who died of accidental electrocution in Bangkok, Thailand in 1968, was a prolific and influential author of works on peace and justice, inter-faith dialogue and literature, as well as on spirituality. “We’ll use him sort of as our ‘Adirondack guide’ to the inner heights and depths of silence and solitude in the wilderness,” he added.

Chura cautioned, however, that the purpose this time of silence and solitude, is, in Merton’s words “not to escape others but to learn how to love and serve them best.” Chura, who co-ordinates a local chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society, explained that for Merton, contemplative practice moves one toward a sense of solidarity with others, especially the poor and oppressed. Merton also insisted that fruitful work for peace and justice had to be grounded, as it was, for example for Mahatma Gandhi, in times of silence and solitude. “Without those times,” Chura said, “peace and justice activism can become frenzied, a kind of inner violence that destroys the very peace one wishes to help create.”

 The “Merton in the Mountains Retreat” is sponsored each year by the Thomas Merton Society of the Capital Region and is open to all.